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Basic Diagnosis and Assessment of Maternal Mental Illness in the Forensic Arena

Presented By Gina Wong, PhD | Diana Lynn Barnes, PsyD
Gina Wong, PhD Diana Lynn Barnes, PsyD

6 Hours | 6 CEs

This on-demand professional training program on Basic Diagnosis and Assessment of Maternal Mental Illness in the Forensic Area is presented by Diana Lynn Barnes, PsyD, and Gina Wong, PhD.

Women are exceptionally vulnerable to psychiatric illness during the childbearing years, with more hospitalizations over this period than at any other time during the female life cycle. Because maternal depression looks characteristically different from what is generally understood about major depressive disorder, it is often misdiagnosed or ineffectively treated.

This introductory program is designed for mental health professionals from a variety of disciplines preparing to work or who are already working in forensic settings. A broad understanding of this specialized area of forensics within the context of current research and a scientific understanding of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are provided. This foundational program prepares professionals for assessment and diagnosis as well as a deeper understanding of serious maternal mental illness with a special emphasis on its connection to filicide.

The clinical presentation of the wide range of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is addressed along with the factors that elevate risk. This program enhances understanding of the diagnostic tools generally used in assessment and diagnosis. Sociocultural attitudes and global perspectives on criminal charges and sentencing decisions are discussed. Case examples are used to highlight didactic material.

The information obtained for use in this program is evidence-based, empirically supported, and widely accepted as general practice in the field of maternal mental illness. Education around assessment and diagnosis is foundational in addressing the intersection between maternal mental illness and the criminal justice system.

Maternal mental Health and Its Application to Forensics: Training the Expert Witness series overview

More psychiatric admissions are around the childbearing years than at any other time in the female life cycle. Women’s reproductive mental health is a highly specialized field of study with an increasingly critical role in the arena of criminal justice. This four-program series introduces participants to the foundations of maternal mental health as it applies to forensics and women who are criminally charged for harm to their child/children. Each program furthers the current empirically based understanding of maternal mental health forensics and promotes accepted standards and protocols in this emerging specialty. This series advances fundamental clinical, legal, and sociocultural perspectives in addition to encouraging critical dialogue in this evolving field. Basic diagnosis and assessment, the expert witness's role in evaluation and report writing, and advanced training in expert testimony are included. Case analysis and discussion are integral parts of the didactic learning inherent in this program.

Programs in this series include:

Program Materials

The materials listed below are not included with the program purchase and must be purchased separately.

Strongly Recommended
Foundational Texts

Intended Audience

This on-demand professional training program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals

Experience Level

This on-demand professional training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

CE / CPD Credit

APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:

Identify three basic competency areas necessary to develop proficiency as an expert in maternal mental health forensics

Describe the impact of untreated maternal illness to birth outcomes

Describe the range of diagnoses that occur during the childbearing years, and their clinical presentation

Describe the factors that elevate risk for maternal mental illness

Describe basic diagnostic tools used to assess maternal mood and anxiety disorders

Describe the terminology used to describe maternal infanticide and filicide in the courtroom

Describe utilization of the DSM-5 to understand maternal mental illness in the courtroom.

Formulate a differential diagnosis regarding state of mind in those women who are criminally charged.

Describe pertinent legal aspects of maternal filicide cases

Describe the wide range of attitudes and perspectives that affect how charging and sentencing decisions are made around the globe


Presented By

Gina Wong, PhD

Dr. Gina Wong, Ph.D., is a Registered Psychologist in Alberta, Canada, and a professor at Athabasca University. She specializes in perinatal and reproductive mental health and has researched perinatal mood and anxiety disorders from narrative perspectives. She educates, consults, and trains in the f...

Presented By

Diana Lynn Barnes, PsyD

Dr. Diana Lynn Barnes, Psy.D., PMH-C, LMFT practices in Los Angeles, California. She has been a forensic expert in the specialized area of maternal mental illness for over 20 years. She is frequently retained by legal counsel on cases of pregnancy denial and neonaticide, postpartum psychosis, and in...


1. Program Introduction

2. Understanding and Addressing Maternal Mental Illness

3. Case Study - The Case of Rosa

4. Perinatal Suicide, Postnatal Psychosis, and Differential Diagnosis

5. Maternal Filicide

6. Legal Area and Competency Domains

7. Case Study - Cynthia Wachenheim

Develop a Specialty Area of Practice

Transforming mental health professionals into experts

Expert Instructors

Professional training developed and delivered by the field's leading experts

CE Credit

Earn CE credit for meaningful professional training that will elevate your practice

Convenience & Flexibility

Learn at your own pace, from wherever you might be!